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Brexit: employment law

Published Thursday, November 10, 2016

This short note discusses the interaction between UK and EU employment law; the potential consequences of Brexit; and the Government's position on the issue.

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EU employment law provides a minimum standard below which domestic employment law must not fall. 

In some cases EU law has entrenched at an international level existing domestic employment rights; for example, rights relating to race discrimination and maternity.  In other cases, new rights have been transposed into UK law to comply with emerging EU obligations; for example, agency workers’ rights and limitations on working time.

Subject to the provisions of the EU withdrawal arrangements or subsequent trade agreement, withdrawal from the EU would mean that UK employment rights currently guaranteed by EU law would no longer be so guaranteed.  In consequence, a post-Brexit government could seek to amend or remove any of these. 

At present, the Government has confirmed the following as regards post-Brexit EU employment law:

  • the Prime Minister has confirmed that workers’ existing legal rights will be guaranteed during her period in office
  • the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ will convert all current EU employment law into domestic law, whatever future relationship the UK has with the EU
  • the direct effect of relevant EU rights will persist post-Brexit
  • judgments of the European Court of Justice will be given effect in domestic law at the point of exit.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7732

Author: Douglas Pyper

Topics: Employment, EU law and treaties

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